Coming Soon: American Indian Film Talk

ISU Lectures Program is co-sponsoring “American Indian Film Talk,” a discussion panel featuring filmmakers Jon Proudstar, Mary Goose, Rean Goose and Lucas Goose.  When / where:  April 25, 7:00 pm, Gallery, in the Memorial Union.

Proudstar has appeared as an actor in numerous movies (including Sterlin Harjo’s indie film Barking Water), shorts, and various TV series.

More recently, he has written and directed the award-winning short film Dude Vision (2005) and the feature-length drama So Close to Perfect (2009).

Visit IMDB for a full list of his many projects and credentials.

The Goose family are Meskwaki and Chippewa, and based in Iowa.  Mary Goose is also a published poet and writer.  Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and journals, including the following anthologies that you can find in the Library:

   The Remembered Earth: An Anthology of contemporary Native American literature, ed. by Geary Hobson.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1981.
Parks Library GEN COLLECTION:  PS508 .I5 R4 1981

   Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry, ed. by Joseph Bruchac.
Greenfield Review Press, 1983.
Parks Library GEN COLLECTION:  PS591.I55 S64x 1983 

This event is co-sponsored by the American Indian Studies Program, and the Center for Distance and Online Learning.  Plan to attend and show these filmmakers your interest and support!

A Day without a Mexican

Standing on line at the café waiting for my morning coffee, CNN was doing a spot on A Day without a Mexican, Sergio Arau’s “mockumentary” satire from 2004.  Scripted like a sci-fi thriller, the film depicts the shocking story of Mexican & Mexican American people disappearing throughout California, leaving hordes of panicky white folks to deal with their own cooking, laundering, babysitting, gardening, and other responsibilities.

Trailer: A Day without a Mexican

The documentary makes its point with humor and some tragedy, and can serve as a useful tool for class discussions on the often difficult topics of immigration, race, economic refugees, and class privilege.  The Library owns A Day without A Mexican in both DVD and video formats.  Here are the details, along with other recent and classic DVDs and videos on the topic of Latin American immigration.

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A Day without a Mexican; dir. by Sergio Arau
“Presented in documentary fashion, this program shows what might happen, what adverse effects there would be, etc. if all Mexican Americans and Mexicans in the United States were to vanish.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 462)

AbUSed:  THe Postville Raid; dir. by Luis Argueta
“The arrest of nearly 400 undocumented workers in Postville, Iowa, pushed the town to the brink of collapse and severed an economic lifeline to one of the poorest areas in the Western Hemisphere. These are stories in Guatemala and Iowa of the immigrants affected.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 005 162)

 Trailer: AbUSed: The Postville Raid

Postville: When cultures collide; Iowa Public Television
“Tells the story of how a small Iowa town is dealing with multiculturalism. Postville, Iowa is where more than 300 Hasidic Jews, plus hundreds of Mexicans, Guatelmalans, Ukrainians and Russians have taken up residence in the last decade. Explores the struggles and rewards of the social and economic changes.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 808)
Which Way Home (HBO Documentary Films); dir. Rebecca Cammisa
“A feature documentary that follows unaccompanied child migrants on their journey through Mexico as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like Olga and Freddy, 9-year old Hondurans, who are trying to reach their parents in the U.S. Children like Jose, a 10-year old El Salvadoran, who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and Kevin, a streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach the U.S.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 792)

Trailer: Which Way Home


La Caminata / The journey; dir. by Jamie Meltzer
“Fed up with the mass migration of their community, the small Mexican town of Alberto creates a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction they call La Caminata, a simulated nighttime border crossing, complete with fake border patrol chasing balaclava-clad coyotes. The experience is a cross between adventure tourism and a way for participants, largely middle class Mexican tourists, to experience firsthand the hardships of the border crossing. La Caminata details the story of this unlikely attempt to save a small community, offering a powerful look at the effect of migration in home communities, and opening a view to the immigration debate on the other side.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 793)

Children in No Man’s Land / Niños en tierra de nadie; dir. Anayansi Prado
“Relates “the story of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they attempt to cross the [Mexican-American Border Region] alone to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area in Nogales, Arizona, this film explores every detail of these children’s journey as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 787)

A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa
“Summary of the history of a rural Midwest community, particularly its industry, immigration and ethnicity. Includes the rise and fall of the railroad and emergence of meatpacking as its major employer in the 1960s; investigates and portrays changes in the economy, society, and physical environment that arose due to Latino immigration in the 1980s and 1990s.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

Trailer: A Little Salsa on the Prairie

Letters from the other side; dir. by Heather Courtney
“Heather Courtney’s film interweaves video letters carried across the U.S.-Mexico border by the film’s director with the personal stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. The video letters provides a way for these women to communicate with both loved ones and strangers on the other side of the border, and illustrates an unjust truth – as an American Courtney can carry these video letters back and forth across a border that these women are not legally allowed to cross. Focusing on a side of the immigration story rarely told by the media or touched upon in the national debate, the film offers a fresh perspective, painting a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics, communities dying at the hands of globalization, and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 932)

De l’autre côté / From the other side; dir. by Chantal Akerman
“In images and interviews, this film examines the plight of poor Mexicans who try to emigrate to the United States illegally with the hope of a better life. U.S. attempts to stem the influx has forced immigrants to take dangerous routes to avoid detection, and many have died.”  In French, English, & Spanish, with English subtitles.  From renowned and prolific  Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman.
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 494)

Del otro lado del cristal / On the other side of the glass (ICAIC)
“Documentary on “Operación Peter Pan,” during which thousands of Cuban children left Havana for Miami without their parents between 1960-1962.”  In Spanish, with English subtitles.  From the renowned Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC).
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

María Full of Grace; HBO Films, dir. Joshua Marston
“Maria, a poor Colombian teenager, is desperate to leave a soul-crushing job. She accepts an offer to transport packets of heroin – which she swallows – to the United States. The ruthless world of drug trafficking proves to be more than she bargained for.”  
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 900)

[Trailer: María Full of Grace – now replaced by a playlist Motorcycle Diaries!]

Diarios de motocicleta / Motorcycle Diaries; dir. by Walter Salles
(Okay, this one does not fit our theme at all but I just noticed the Maria Full of Grace trailer has  been replaced by a video playlist that starts with a Motorcycle Diaries trailer.  Playlists – go figure!  You can skip ahead about 6 or 7 videos to view the Maria Full of Grace trailer, or enjoy viewing them all.  It’s quite an eclectic collection!  Just the same, we do own Motorcycle Diaries, which tells the tale of the young Ernesto “Che” Guevara who drives his motorcycle across Latin America, learning many life lessons and becoming politicized along the way.  Enjoy the beautiful music by Gustavo Santaolalla in this trailer! Hey, we own the cd of his soundtrack for the film as well:  Disc 004 205 in the Media Center!  Check it out!)
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 001 134)

Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary; dir. Laura Angélica Simón
“A documentary by Los Angeles teacher Laura Angelica Simón, exploring the impact of California’s Proposition 187 on the immigrant community. The subject is Hoover Street Elementary School, where Simón candidly explores the attitudes and emotions of teachers, students and parents, focusing on a ten year old Salvadorian girl.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 002 738)

Trailer: El Norte

El Norte; dir. by Gregory Nava
The 1983 classic and still powerful film:  “Mayan Indian peasants are tired of being thought of as nothing more than manual laborers. They organize an effort to improve their lot in life, but are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, Enrique and Rosa, a teenage brother and sister, who barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to United States. After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 003 728)

Music to my ears: Streaming music from the Library

Did you know that the Library subscribes to Naxos Music Library? NML is a huge digital collection of streaming music files of classic recordings. Many years ago, I worked in a record store and became familiar with Naxos as a classical music label. While I love classical music, I was surprised this morning to do some digging in NML and find a number of other genres of interest.  Here are a few highlights:

Blues – Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Etta James, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and others wailing through classics such as “Smokestack Lightnin,” “Preaching the blues,” “Spoonful,” “Got my Mojo Working,” “Dust My Broom,” and more.

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  Side Note: Did you know Blues legend Big Bill Broonzy lived & worked in Ames, Iowa in the late 1940s? According to an article in the Ames Tribune, Big Bill found “…a job as a janitor at Friley Hall, and during that time, he lived in one of the Quonset huts at Pammel Court. Broonzy wrote “The Moppin’ Blues” in honor of his employment in Ames.”

(See: Black History Month: Big Bill Broonzy: ‘The Moppin’ Blues,'” by Laura Millsaps, Ames Tribune, Dec. 17, 2010)

On NML, you can hear Big Bill sing “I Feel So Good,” which features a rollicking piano, harmonica, and snappy drum work, with lots of friends screaming in the background.  Just the track for a Friday morning at work pick me up!

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Those of you who are fans like me of country blues, will of course want to give a listen to the sheer genius  of Robert Johnson.  Or if you’re not sure what “country blues” means, give a listen to this gifted and legendary musician – his strong vocals, inventive guitar work, surprising syncopation, songwriting, and lyrics are all unparalleled.  NML includes several of his classics, including “Preaching the Blues,” “Little Queen of Spades,” “Dust My Broom,” “Come On in My Kitchen,” “They’re Red Hot,” “Terraplane Blues,” and “Last Fair Deal Gone Down.”

Finding:  Naxos Music Library allows you to select the songs you want to hear, select sound quality, share information via Twitter and Facebook (though I’m not sure if our Naxos settings support that), and even provides links for you to buy or download the files you want.  NML has a Keyword Search box at the top of its page, but I’ll recommend you use the Menu Bar instead and browse Genres, Artists, and so on.  When I use the Keyword Search box for specific artists, my results are often off the mark.

  Sometimes the Keyword Search box seems to work well, though.  I searched American Indian there, and found a number of recordings including the wonderfully relaxing Spirit Wind: Native American Flute, by the Native Flute Ensemble.  Listening to it now as I write!

You can also search by browsing through the Menu Bar links.  One fruitful place to look through is the Genre link, where you’ll see that NML includes Classical Music; Contemporary Jazz & Jazz; Folk Legends; Blues; “Nostalgia” (looks like a lot of Johnny Cash listed there, along with Duke Ellington, “timeless Country songs,” brass bands, and lots of interesting miscellanea); World, and more.

The World genre alone has 184 fabulous pages of listings, including pages and pages of African music of all kinds – traditional, contemporary, choirs, and more –  including a 3-volume series called African Rhythms and Instruments, with each volume including specific regions).  Find something of interest, click the songs you want to listen to, and that’s it!  There’s so much here, ranging from traditional songs from Afghanistan to Japanese music for the koto, the shamisen, and shakuhachi to Lebanese bellydance to  Yiddish and Klezmer recordings, and basically music from ALL OVER the world – far too much for me to page through, particularly as my computer seems to have gone on strike at the moment.  The standard entries seem to list the country or tradition first, as in “KURDISTAN Dursa Acar: Traditional and Contemporary Music of Kurdistan.”  So, you should be able to search a country or tradition of interest by using the Keyword Search box, and zip to the items of interest that way.

 Naxos Music Library has something for everyone!

I’m a neophyte fan of Iranian / Persian classical music, and was so happy to find a recording called In a Persian Garden: The Santur – just the thing to listen to at work, when I’m busy writing and doing other computer-related work.

Tracks included on NML are “Dashti,” “Shur,” “Abu-Ata,” “Afshari,” and “Homayun.”  As with many of NML’s recordings there’s a link to a pdf booklet the provides helpful liner notes and information.  A santur is a hammered dulcimer – give a listen to hear the amazingly beautiful, silvery cascades of sound that the musician, Nasser Rastegar-Nejad, magically produces.  Niceto have these Booklet notes for noobs like me to learn more about this beautiful music!

Chinese music – Before I sign off, I also want to tell you a bit about the Chinese music section (listed as a Genre of its own) within Naxos Music Library.  It’s fantastic!   A wide range of music is represented, including the wonderfully relaxing Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto; Ding Shande’s somber & triumphant Long March Symphony; chamber music, and primarily slick orchestral arrangements of Chinese “oldies” and Chinese pop.  You can of course find lots of traditional Chinese music by looking through the Genres > World category.  There you’ll find wonderful records such as Ancient Art Music of China, Plucked Stringed Instrument Classics, and more.

So – how do you find or refer campus colleagues & students to Naxos Music Library?  It’s listed by name in the eLibrary’s Article Indexes and Databases list.   You’ll be amazed by the breadth of music included there for your listening pleasure.  Enjoy!!

abUSed – Postville, Iowa immigration raid (DVD showing)

Last Friday, I took the afternoon off as vacation to drive to Des Moines for a showing of abUSed, the new DVD documentary on the Postville, Iowa immigration raid tragedy.  It was being shown at the Catholic Relief Services, and featured a discussion panel comprised of film director Luis Argueta, Sonia Parras, the primary defense lawyer, and one of the local activists.   I highly recommend that you go out of your way to see this film if you hear of another showing in your area.

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The immigration raid on a Kosher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa remains the largest immigration raid in US history, resulting in the arrests of almost 400 workers, most of whom were of Guatemalan or Mexican descent.  The workers were immediately criminalized on charges of identity theft, and duped by government officials to sign away their rights.  Regardless of your views on US immigration policies, the film features testimonials from countless individuals – among them local teachers; priests, nuns, and Catholic lay workers; lawyers and federal judges; a fact-finding Jewish tribunal; federal congress representatives of the US National Hispanic Caucus; Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, and many eloquent arrested and deported workers, their broken families, and children – that clearly show that the rights of these workers (yes, undocumented workers do have rights) were systematically ignored and abused before, during, and after their arrests.  Long after the arrests and deportations, documented cases of physical abuse and rape of workers and widespread abuse of child labor laws began to emerge.

This powerful DVD is NOT currently in distribution or widely available for puchase.  (Yes, dear reader, good collector that I am, I did indeed acquire a personal copy of the DVD.  Before I had a chance to consider donating it to the Library, my husband promptly loaned it out to a friend.  I’m looking into acquiring an institutional copy but haven’t yet heard back.)

There is a bilingual trailer of the film available on YouTube, along with related interviews by Luis Argueta.  (Please do ignore the anonymous YouTube user diatribes that currently display on the page, along with links to other relevant clips.  Immigration is one of those issues that seem always to elicit uninformed commentary.  I’m sure not one of the commentors – pro or con – has seen the actual DVD.)

I’m working on acquiring the DVD for our collections.  Until then,to learn more about the film, or perhaps to learn of showings near you, you can view or join their Facebook page.  Powerful and unforgettable.

Update:  Now available:  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 005 162)